Bailey yet to hit top gear as Emery bids to unlock potential
Leon Bailey is in the form of his life at Aston Villa but continues to be used sparingly by Unai Emery.
Despite consistently making an impact, the winger has started just 10 Premier League games with a further 11 appearances as a substitute.
That makes his return of seven goals and six assists even more impressive.
Ahead of Villa's clash with Manchester United this afternoon, we consider whether Bailey could become a constant in Emery's starting XI.
Point to prove
Emery's frequent use of Bailey as an impact substitute is an indication of the quality he has in his ranks.
They are blessed with real talent up front with Ollie Watkins and Moussa Diaby both having strong seasons.
The Villa boss sometimes opts to pack midfield — as was the case in their recent 3-1 defeat to Newcastle at Villa Park, where Emery started with a four of Youri Tielemans, Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara and John McGinn.
Bailey replaced Diaby in that game and quickly provided the assist for Watkins' consolation goal.
Since then, the Jamaican has started back-to-back matches, scoring in a 5-0 drubbing of Sheffield United before a more difficult evening in Wednesday's 3-1 FA Cup loss to Chelsea.
There is certainly a strong argument to be made for Bailey to be one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Only two of his seven league goals have been scored as a substitute — and the combined threat of the 26-year-old alongside Watkins is difficult for opposition defenders to contend with.
Bailey is reportedly set to sign a new contract at Villa, reward for his important contribution to what has been an excellent campaign so far.
No player in the team has created more chances per 90 (2.48) or completed more take-ons per 90 (2.48) in the Premier League.
He also ranks first at Villa for goals per 90 (0.62) — bettering Watkins' average of 0.49 goals per match.
Given more time on the pitch — Watkins has played twice as many minutes in the Premier League this season (2,029 vs 1,015) — Bailey's numbers could soon look even more impressive.
The next target for Villa's No31 will be to convince his manager that he is worthy of more regular starts.
More to come
Emery has suggested that Bailey remains in the process of acclimatising to life in the Premier League.
The Villans boss said: "He [Bailey] was still in the adaptation when I arrived here and the adaptation is everything.
"This year he didn't start really strong and last year he was not always consistent.
"I spoke with him this year when we started pre-season about how we could improve different issues and things he wasn't showing us in a consistent way. His reaction was fantastic.
"I explained it to him, 'No Leon, I want more. We need more of you. You have to be consistent and focus more than you are doing because it is not enough'.
"His commitment has improved and his focus working every day harder has improved."
The 30-cap international has clearly responded well to the requirements of his coach, who has a reputation for being obsessive over small details.
If he can consistently carry out Emery's tactical instructions and continue to score and assist regularly, the sky is the limit for Bailey at Villa Park.